So here’s an awkward question … How many of you are reading this article without ads? Don’t be shy if you are. You’re definitely not alone.
You’ll be getting even more ad blocking options with next week’s launch of iOS 9, which is supposed to support content blocking extensions. That could be a big step forward for the technology, which has been a largely desktop-only phenomenon until now. Naturally, the news has prompted another round of handwringing about the impact that ad blocking could have on the publishing business.
Even without Apple’s support, ad blocking has been on the rise. There are now 198 million global active users of ad blocking software, up 41 percent from 12 months ago, according to a recent report by PageFair and Adobe. The report also estimates that ad blocking will cost publishers $22 billion in revenue this year.
Some caveats: PageFair isn’t an objective industry observer, since its business revolves around helping publishers circumvent these blockers. Also, the impact on mobile may be reduced as more content is distributed on apps and social networks. Lastly, there have been arguments that ad blocking won’t hurt publishers as badly as you might think, because the ad business has always been “lossy,” with lots of wasted money, whether you’re talking about TV or print.